meaning of Christmas
We hear it every day, the supply chain is broken, ships are trapped in the harbor, and there’s no one to drive the trucks! We won’t be able to buy more things to add to the things we already have. Well, relax, calm down, and carry on. Christmas cannot be canceled and nothing can stop Christians from celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. You can always celebrate in your heart for free.
I have had 86 Decembers. I can’t remember the first few, but I will be happy to share the ones I do. Christmas was very special to me.
My sister Sara was born in 1929 (not a great year), I arrived in 1936, Jimmy in 1940, and Steve in 1945. With my parents and paternal grandmother that made eight of us in the Cagle home.
Our street was filled with young couples and many children. It was a wonderful time to grow up in a small town. Everyone was in the same boat which was barely afloat. We children weren’t aware of how tight things were in those days because most of what we enjoyed was free. Roller skating, bike riding, tree climbing, and using our imagination were some of our pastimes. We knew nothing those days of name branding clothing and shoes.
And then there was Christmas! A time for cantatas, manger scenes, the lights, and the magic. We truly believed that Santa was real. We didn’t see him on every corner, just the one in the Christmas parade. He brought us our gifts and that made him special. My parents kept the magic alive. Mother would call us to the window, but we were never quick enough to spot the elf she had just seen. We strained our ears to hear the bells she always heard.
One year my beloved doll came up missing in December. She reappeared under the tree on Christmas morning with freshly painted hair and a new outfit. She had been all the way to the North Pole for her makeover. Years later I would learn I had an aunt to thank for being Santa’s helper.
Our next door neighbor, Bill Rives would cut down several pine trees and call us over to pick one out. Some years our decorations would be so scarce that we even saved the tinsel off the tree for next year. One year we had a white tree. This is how we made one. We laid the tree on a sheet in the front yard and sprayed it down was a hose. Then we sifted flour over it and turned it over until the tree was covered. It looked so pretty and the decorations stood out beautifully. It always made us sad to see the tree put out on the curb for garbage pickup.
Christmas morning after excitedly checking our gifts we would go up and down the street to see what our friends received. Only one child (who was an only child) got a lot more than the rest of us. She tried to tell me there was no Santa and she just gave a list to her father. Poor girl, I didn’t get as many gifts, but mine were pure magic.
One year a cousin surprised our family with a box of homemade candy. The divinity was divine and the fudge fabulous. To this day I still enjoy making candy and cookies for family and friends and have always remembered the kindness.
Back then the stores did not put out Christmas decorations in September. Mother and Daddy shopped on Christmas Eve. The town was full of cheerful people happily greeting each other. Years later it occurred to me that they probably had to wait on their Christmas bonuses to shop. As for me I buy gifts throughout the year. If I come across a likely gift I buy it and stick it under the bed or in a closet. It doesn’t have the same feeling although it is efficient.
So many of my family and friends are no longer with us. I have so many sweet memories of that time. My parents went to great lengths to make Christmas and our birthdays special.
My Daddy worked for the Winston County Journal for over 40 years. When I was a child everyone who worked there my father included were kin to each other. I felt free to roam around there and knew everyone. Daddy kept our gifts there and brought them home late Christmas Eve. Years later my mother laughed and told me he rode home on my bike loaded with presents and miraculously made it home. By the time I got my heart’s desire, my bicycle, I knew where it came from.
We never saw much of Daddy during the month of December. As the only linotype operator he was kept very busy typing out all those letters to Santa. What a tribute to all the parents of those kids. They all had been very very good all year. The top request for boys were cap guns and cowboy outfits and for the girls it was dolls. Everyone wanted a stocking full of fruit, nuts, and candy. My sister Dot recently reminded me how we would hang out Grandmother’s stockings as they were old fashioned and really big.
I have never had a better Christmas than the ones of my childhood when the world was more innocent. We had a lot less, but what we had meant more. We had a very friendly neighborhood. We even had a prayer group that met weekly. We all sent out many Christmas cards as stamps were only a few pennies each.
Material things are nice.
Love, compassion, and generosity are nicer. As we remember the real reason for the season, we will always have Christmas.